Admiralty Bay


Surf and Tufts. Grasses show off their fall colors around a weathered log in Driftwood Park, Whidbey Island, Washington.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 45mm, 1/500 sec, f/11, ISO 500.

During my visit to Whidbey Island back in September, I visited the northern shore of Admiralty Bay several times. This area includes Fort Casey to the west (which I will leave for a future post of its own), a ferry terminal, and a long beach that is called Fort Casey Beach at one end and Driftwood Park at the other. That long beach is really a pretty thin slice of land between Admiralty Bay to the south and Crockett Lake to the north. When I caption photographs, I like to include the correct location, so the fact that this whole string of places covers less than a two mile stretch makes it tricky to get right. Maybe I should have just claimed “Whidbey Island” and left it at that.

The very first place we visited as a group for the photo workshop was Driftwood Park at the east end of the long beach. As you would assume from the name, there was a lot of no-longer-drifting driftwood around. There was an area just inland of the beach proper where were some ponds cut off from the sea. It was in this area that I eventually found the very pretty grasses featured in the image above. They were obviously starting their own fall color transition. I should have taken a lot more pictures of these, but did not want to be “that guy” who was late for the agreed-upon departure rendezvous. When I went on a Death Valley photography tour in 2015, we had one of those guys on the tour who was always 15-20 minutes behind everyone else; after half a dozen such episodes, had there been a handy mineshaft or boiling mud pit to shove him into, I suspect someone would have.

There are a lot of great blue herons on Whidbey Island, and the one below was exploring the edge of one of the ponds. I like the way that the curving shoreline leads right to the tip of its beak.

Shore Patrol. A great blue heron prowls the water’s edge in Driftwood Park, Whidbey Island, Washington.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S at 400mm, 1/500 sec, f/5.6, ISO 80.

Earlier during that same visit I found the tree stump below. It was definitely a perfect subject for getting up close with the fisheye. There was a big log passing right in front of this stump to the lower right of the image that made maneuvering the camera position more difficult and I had to crop this image three or four different ways until I found this one that gave the “open maw” enough prominence:

Wood Demon. A drifting tree trunk sits on the rock beach at Driftwood Park, Whidbey Island, Washington.
Nikon Z8 with AF-S Fisheye Nikkor 8-15mm f/3.5-4.5E ED at 14mm, 1/90 sec, f/11, ISO 64.

On a subsequent visit a few days later, I took some pictures near the ferry terminal using my neutral density filters. For these images, I stacked a 6-stop neutral density filter and a combined 6-stop/circular polarizer; if you are not familiar with photography math, the resulting 12 stops makes the exposure time roughly 4,000 times longer. The water was pretty smooth to start with, but these very long exposures turn the water into a frosted glass mirror:

Orthanc. A few seagulls sit atop a log tower near the Coupeville ferry terminal, Whidbey Island, Washington.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S at 130mm, 60 sec, f/11, ISO 64.

I really like the simplicity of the image above, and it does look good even with the tower much closer to black, but I lightened the shadows enough to make out the individual logs of the tower, as well as the ladder and the cables cinching it all together near the top. The seagulls were fairly patient about sitting still, which helped, too.

The old pier structure below got the same long-exposure treatment. I wish that I could have gotten about eight feet higher so the top of the entire structure would be against water instead of the distant shore, but there was no way for me to accomplish that. I do also like the stray log in the lower left, which seems at first glance like it has fallen off of the far structure. In reality it only looks the same thickness because it is so much closer, but visually it works and adds a little interest to the foreground.

Cormorant Pier. Seabirds have taken over a derelict pier near the Coupeville Ferry Terminal, Whidbey Island, Washington.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 24-120mm f/4 S at 36mm, 90 sec, f/11, ISO 64.

The following image isolates the far left edge of the above structure from a slightly different angle, and I worked hard to get high enough to separate the top of the piles from the distant shore. Even so, I am tempted to try to do a little editing magic to replace the far shore with more water, which might be a fun little project. As for the little red-and-white bouy or float that is in the water, I am inclined to leave it as a point of interest. And the obvious blurring gives a little sense of the water’s motion.

Derelict Pier Detail. Old pier pilings project from the waters off Fort Casey Beach near the Coupeville Ferry Terminal, Whidbey Island, Washington.
Nikon Z8 with Nikkor Z 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR S at 210mm, 20 sec, f/9.5, ISO 64.

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4 responses to “Admiralty Bay”

  1. Great to see another really good set of images. I especially like the one where you have combined filters to slow things down hugely. The non-drifting driftwood works well, too.

    I know what you mean about people on trips. I was on one recently when someone insisted that our minibus turn back to a location he had spotted while we were passing from one location to another. This resulted in much toing and froing, and we hadn’t found the location, or at least weren’t sure we had, an hour or more later. Still, some of his images were quite inspirational.